Everest on the Horizon and Endless Gratitude!

Keep your heart open to dreams. For as long as there is a dream, there is hope, and as long as there is hope, there is joy in living. Anonymous 

In just about 3 months time I will set off for Nepal and attempt my 6th of the 7 Summits, Mt. Everest, for women in the Congo. It feels a bit like yesterday that I started the campaign and set off on this incredible journey, not truly knowing how it would all go or whether I would be successful. Today I write with a heart full of gratitude for being able to set off on this journey at all. My first summit was back in July 2008, Mt. Elbrus in Russia. At the root core, I was inspired to set off on this mission in order to raise funds and awareness for a group of women and children in a far off land that had undergone some of the most tragic experiences I had ever heard of. My hope was to bring change through awareness and relief through financial support to organizations working diligently in these areas to make sustainable health and livelihood improvements for these women. I wish I could say that magnitude of sexual gender based violence in the Congo has decreased, but it has not, as you can see from my last post. I recently read that approximately 15,000 women have been raped in Eastern Congo alone this year, and this is completely unacceptable. 

On March 30 through June 5th I will attempt to climb Everest for these women and two amazing charities doing remarkable work in the Congo, International Medical Corps and VDAY. Others will also be trekking to base camp to raise funds and awareness as well, which I am so grateful for! (My Dad and Melanie included!) 

I want to give special thanks and recognition to my firm, McKinney Rogers, who will be sponsoring 50% of the climb and allowing me to take 2 months off from work to set off on this journey. I am eternally grateful for their endless support to keep going and reach my goal. McKinney Rogers’ purpose is to ‘Inspire people to achieve the extraordinary,’ and we definitely do this with not only our clients, but with our own people and I am so grateful to be a part of such a remarkable organization. To learn more about McKinney Rogers visit: http://www.mckinneyrogers.com 

As I think more about the climb and the women I am trying to support, I am thankful for so much more though: 

• Thankful to be an independent woman that is free to make her own choices and help others along the way. 
• Thankful for living in a safe place and having the freedom to live my life without fear. I cannot take this for granted after knowing how many women and girls live their life in fear not only in Congo, but around the world. 
• Thankful for being respected as a woman, which sadly many women around the globe are disrespected based on the sole fact that they are a woman. 
• Thankful for the moral support of my family, friends, and employer on this journey. 
• Thankful for my amazing friends that have helped me through some of my most difficult life challenges over the last few years and without them, well I don’t want to think about what life without them would be like.
• Thankful for being able to live a life with purpose. 
• Thankful for my adventurous spirit and desire to live life to the fullest, not limiting any possibilities or experiences. 
• Thankful for all of the amazing people I have met as a result of the campaign and friendships created. 
• Thankful for all the amazing life experiences I have had so far and hopeful that there will be plenty more to come. 
• Thankful for my health and being able to take on such endeavours as a result. 
• Thankful for everyone that has supported the campaign in any way, shape, or form because every little bit makes a difference! 
• Thankful for my determination and stubbornness to some degree...lol...as otherwise I might not have made it up some of these mountains. 
• Thankful for my amazing climbing partner and friend Pam, who will be joining me on this climb. 
• Thankful for women like Eve Ensler, who inspire me to be a better person and help fellow women ....her article set me off on this incredible journey. 
• Thankful for the women I am trying to support in Congo whose drive to not only survive, but re-establish their lives is an endless source of inspiration to overcome any challenge I may face. 

As I prepare for this next climb, it is important for me to keep these things I am grateful for in top of mind at all times. I cannot tell you how excited I am to head to Everest, but there is a lot of work ahead! There are many fundraisers to plan, many more letters and emails and calls to make to potential donors and company sponsors, much more training to do, and final logistical details to work out (including final gear prep). 

I am doing everything I can to prepare myself to go, but I am also respectful of Mother Nature and recognize that my success up that mountain is not solely dependent on me...there will be factors out of my control. At this stage, I am willing to give it the absolute best I have got, and prepared to accept whatever the outcome may be, as long as I know I gave it my all in safe boundaries. 

Here are some links to recent news about the Congo, any help you can give in raising awareness is greatly appreciated! 

Huffington Post: No More Rape 

International Medical Corps 

I leave you with an endearing Hawaiian Parable: 

A man goes out on the beach and sees that it is covered with starfish that have washed up in the tide. A little boy is walking along, picking them up and throwing them back into the water. 
"What are you doing, son?" the man asks. "You see how many starfish there are? You'll never make a difference." 

The boy paused thoughtfully, and picked up another starfish and threw it into the ocean. 
"It sure made a difference to that one," he said. 

An excerpt from the book: Half the Sky-Nicholas D. Kristof 

We all have the power to make a difference no matter how big or small . . . go out there and do something :) 

We would love it if you would join us in our efforts for Congo...change can come with awareness and every little bit counts. 

All donations are tax deductible and make a HUGE Impact!